Book: What’s Left Of Me
Series:Finally Unbroken #2
Author: Maria Macdonald
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hosted By:Francessca’s Romance Reviews
How do you get over the death of a loved one? The one you were going to marry? Even if you always knew you were on borrowed time…
Ruben Asher has been on a downward spiral ever since the death of his fiancée. Getting lost in a haze of alcohol and grief, he spurns everyone’s help, even his best friends.
Laurie Rosales has lived through a loss that still haunts her every day. She turns her black hole of an existence into helping others. But Ruben is the one man she could never reach…
Nearly two years later, Ruben dives head-first into her life again, surprising both her and himself.
This time, he knows what he wants and he’s not backing down.
Can Ruben help Laurie confront buried truths? Can Laurie compete with ghosts from Ruben’s past? Can they break down each other’s walls? Allowing healing to begin on both sides along with feelings like no other.
“The weather was rainy today.”
“Yeah, it was Mom.”
“It was rainy, I got wet.” My mom scratches at her head then picks imaginary lint from her lap.
“You’re dry now,” I tell her tenderly.
“It was raining. I got wet,” she repeats, not looking at me.
Sighing, I flex my hands. I hate this disease. She would hate this disease if she knew. Sometimes, I’m thankful she really doesn’t know.
“Who are you? Where’s my momma? Momma! Momma!” she screeches.
“It’s okay, I’m going. Look, I’m leaving. I’ll get your momma, okay? Shall I put something on the television to watch?”
“Momma!” she shouts again, but then goes quiet as she watches me move toward the door as I turn the television on for her.
“I’m gonna go,” I tell my Aunt Karen.
“Okay, my sweet boy. Don’t worry, your mom will be fine, just like usual,” she tells me and I nod. I know she’s right, my mom doesn’t know any better. It’s just so hard to watch a woman that was so strong, a woman who raised her only son by herself when my pa died, not have any control over her life anymore. At one point my mom had three jobs, and yet still found time to take me to sports and help me with homework. Now she’s so frail, she has no clue who any of us are, or even who she is most of the time. It’s like she’s losing herself from the inside out. I’ll never let her down, though. I come visit every other weekend. Sometimes for the whole weekend, sometimes just for a day. I know it’s time to leave when she starts asking who I am and getting agitated. It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s happening more often than not lately.
“Love you, Aunt Karen,” I say, pulling her in for a hug. Apart from my mom, she’s the only family I still have. She never had kids and my mom and her were the only children. I don’t know my pa’s family, so here I am, the last in the line.
“I have to say this to you, Ruben. So shut up and listen, okay?”
She surprises me, but I nod and remain quiet.
“I’m proud of you. You’ve pulled yourself up, exorcised your demons, gotten on with your life, you haven’t been weak.”
I want to argue, to say that I was weak, for years I let myself be controlled by drink and grief, but I know there’s no point. She wants to say this, so I’m going to let her.
“I was so scared when you started spiraling. I thought we were going to lose you. I thought it would just be Rosina and me.” She nods toward my mom. “I love you.” She reaches up and cups my cheek, in the way only an auntie can. Automatically I lean down to her small five-foot frame and allow her to kiss my cheek.
“I know.” I straighten up and grab my bag, heading out the door to my truck. It’s an hour’s drive to my apartment, and for some reason, I just don’t want to go there. Once I’m on the freeway, I call up the voice control on my cell, check it’s connected to the speaker system and make the call I need to hear the one voice that soothes my soul.
“Ruben?” I close my eyes, but just for a split second, so as not to cause an accident.
“Laurie,” I breathe out her name and even I can hear the relief in my voice.
“Are you okay?” she asks, worry evident in her tone.
“Yeah, sorry. I’ve just had a hard time at my mom’s this weekend. I really don’t want to go home. How would you feel about me coming over to yours for a bit?” I ask the question. She can say no. Over the last three or so weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time together, I’ve picked her up from her apartment, but I’ve never been inside. She’s kept me away and I haven’t pushed, not until now. There’s only so long that I’m going to tiptoe around the situation. I want Laurie to release herself from whatever shit she keeps wrapped up inside. I also want her to be mine.
Slowly I’m slipping into a friendship with her, which is fine, but I’m not going to be friend zoned. So I need to stop this shit before it gets too far. This woman has me seeing my future in a different color than I ever have before. Twelve months ago and that thought would have made me ashamed of myself. Now I realize it’s okay to move on. I know Amanda told me to, but doing it is a different thing altogether. There’s one thing that still makes me feel a little sour, it’s that I could see myself loving Laurie more than I ever did Amanda.
“Sure, c-come over,” Laurie stutters and I feel like a douche for forcing the issue.
“Listen, Laurie, it’s okay, I’m sorry for pushing. If you want, I could pick you up and we could go to the diner,” I offer half-heartedly, hoping she can hear something in my voice that tells her I want to be in her space.
“No,” she snaps and I open my mouth not sure what to say when she continues, “Sorry, I mean, no, come over, it’s fine. Just… just remember it’s not like your place, okay?” I can hear the worry in her voice, and I hate that she feels that way.
“You know me better than that, babe. I’ll be there in forty,” I tell her.
“Okay. Bye Ruben,” she whispers and it hits me in my chest and dick. She disconnects and I let my head roll back while still keeping my eyes on the road.
“Shit. I’m fucked.”
Forty-five minutes later and I’m parked and jogging up the steps to her apartment, noting that the security door was unlocked. Before I get a chance to knock her apartment door is flung open and Laurie stands in the entrance. My eyes take her in. Her chocolate hair falls in soft natural waves over her shoulders. She has what looks like yoga pants on, and a plain blue V-necked top. She has no make-up on, and I love that she’s comfortable in her own skin. It’s her eyes and lips that always take my breath away, though. Her eyes are such a bright green, it’s like looking into a crystal clear ocean, and her lips are full and so fucking kissable.
“Ruben.” Her soft voice is too much this time, and with my arm still on her door surround, I lean my body down and place my lips on hers. At first, she’s frozen, but within a second, I feel her melt into me, and that’s when I bring my arm down and wrap it around her back. I kiss her softly at first, but when I feel her hands move up my chest, fisting in my top as she nips my lip I lose some of my control. Bringing my hand up, I thread my fingers into her hair and gently tug her head back, allowing me more access. I pull away slightly and kiss the corner of her mouth. She opens her lips and her eyes are wide, I lean back in and capture her once again letting my tongue enter. It’s been years since I’ve kissed a woman, but I’m not sure anyone has ever had this effect on me. I bring both my hands down to her butt, and while still kissing her, I lift her whole body up. She gasps as I push her against the wall, but I don’t give her a chance to say anything, as I claim her mouth again. She brings her legs up and wraps them around my waist and I groan down her throat.
Laurie pulls away from me slightly, looking into my eyes. I take in her thoroughly kissed lips, swollen and red, and I feel myself aching to do more than just kiss this woman. Slowly, hesitantly, she lifts her fingers and presses them against my lips. Her eyes are glued to what she’s doing, then suddenly her eyes snap back to mine.
“Ruben,” she whispers my name once again, and I wonder if this is the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life. All she’ll ever have to do is whisper my name for me to lose all control with her.
“Fuck. I think you might be made for me,” I murmur and watch as her mouth hangs open. I take that as my cue and kiss her again, knowing I’m not going to get enough of this woman. I’m not sure I’ll ever have enough.
“My name on his lips sounds like a promise. I’m just not sure what he’s promising me.”
“He watches you like he’s sure that any minute, you’re going to do something extraordinary, and he absolutely doesn’t want to miss it.”
“This woman has me seeing my future in a different color than I ever have before.”
“If he hurts you again, though, I will not be responsible for what appendage I’ll cut off. Remember, I’m off to study medicine.”
He’s the one who holds me when I break. I love him and he loves me. More than that. He’s in love with all of me. Every part. I’m enough…”
Tragedy, grief, sorrow, angst, second chances, and new love inhabit this melancholy and heart-squeezing read. However, it is well worth the emotional tension and tears when you get to the end and their oh so satisfying HEA. Maria Macdonald is the queen of angst and emotive storytelling, and sucks me in as very few can.
About The Author
Maria is a full time working Mum, she has two beautiful daughters, both of whom love books as much as she does.
Maria has loved to write since she was a little girl.
Reading and loving books, as well as blogging, has inspired her to write and publish.
Maria, her husband and children now reside in Wiltshire, England.